Organic Melinda

healthy living with a Latin twist


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Day 29 – Somersaults

Dear Little Acrobat of Mine,

After my interview with Tasleem Jamila of Radio Islam where she and I discussed living gmo-free, supporting local farms, and my services, you and I had a ton of fun this afternoon.

I took you on a trip to the backyard and brought you to stand in the sun for a little while.

Afterwards, we came back home, and I played with you in bed. I would place the blanket over my head and you would lift it up and laugh so hard.

Then, we could go under the blanket together. You would giggle and put your feet in my face telling me to kiss your toes.

I tickled you as you laughed and laughed some more.

We sang capoeira songs. Now, you know two songs – la la la eu and oi sim sim sim oi nao nao nao. You sing them on your own, clap your hands, and then make me join along.

you and Daddy doing capoeira

During one of these moments, you did your very first somersault, today!

I am so proud of how athletic you are at only 18 months old.

You are flourishing so quickly and getting so smart.

Of course, you’re still my baby girl as you demand kisses and cuddles.

You always want to fall asleep in my arms and stay there the whole time you’re napping.

I am usually happy to oblige.

I have to breastfeed you, now, so I have to go.

With a boobie in your mouth,

Mami Loves You

—-
About this Series:
In honor of Latino Heritage Month, I will write 30 letters for 30 days to my beautiful daughter. This series is entitled, Mami Loves You. In these letters, I will tell her about the world around her, and reflect on her development.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, I will honor a Latina woman that I believe is a great role model for my daughter to admire. Through these letters, I pay homage to my role as a mother, and I will teach my daughter about one of the cultures that has birthed her.

To Subscribe to the series Mami Loves You, follow the link: http://mamilovesyou.com/ and fill out the form.

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Day 26 – Mujeres Poderosas – Valesca Macedo (Contra Mestre Loba)

To My Inspiration,

They say that people with goals seldom sleep.  They leave the dreaming to others while they build their realities.

As I watch the sunrise through a grey sky full of clouds, I reflect on what makes women role models. Particularly, I think about the common traits that the women who inspire me possess.

They are kind, determined, self-loving, nurturing, authentic, and hard working.

Today’s Mujer (or rather Mulher) Poderosa is my capoeira teacher, mentor, and friend, Valesca Macedo  (Contra Mestre Loba of Grupo Senzala de Capoeira).

Valesca possesses all of these qualities and many more.

Valesca and her son.

 

I learned about CM Loba when I attended a Grupo Senzala batizado in 2010.  She was the first female capoeirista that I had seen climb the ranks as I had the privilege of witnessing her receive her contra mestre cordao.

In the roda, she was sharp – a total badass – holding her own against men twice her size. I was enamored by her strength and agility in the roda.

It took over three years, however, and me being part of two other capoeira groups before I had the privilege to train under CM Loba.

Upon becoming a member of Grupo Senzala, I was determined to train under a woman, particularly, with CM Loba.

I joined Evolution Fitness just to take her capoeira classes, but then I began to take all of her classes – Step, Butt, Legs and Thighs, and Butts, Guts & More.

In those classes, she is Valesca. During capoeira class, she is CM Loba.

Valesca’s energy was infectious. I found myself getting in shape super fast. Not only was she great at motivating us to push ourselves during class, she was also kind and always willing to provide advice for anyone who had a question.

In capoeira class, she has been patient with me as I transition from my previous capoeira styles into hers and as I recover from physical injury. And, of course, she pushes me to be better and better.

Valesca is all about female empowerment, and she gets super excited when our capoeira classes are all-women.

Through my experiences  with women like her, I have learned to value the importance of female companionship and camaraderie.

As if teaching tons of fitness classes weren’t enough, Valesca is also an entrepreneur, a mother, and she is currently training to be a Bikini Fitness Model.

It is super exciting to see her body transformation these past few months, and she is a constant reminder of my own fitness goals.

While I have only formally been Valesca’s student since March of this year, I am sure that this friendship will last a lifetime.

I am honored to be in the presence of such an inspiring woman who can kick ass and look super hot while doing it.

Valesca is a role model for you because she embodies strength and femininity, physical fitness and gentleness, and toughness and kindness.

I look forward to when you are old enough to take capoeira classes with her.

Axe,

Mami Loves You

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About this Series:

In honor of Latino Heritage Month, I will write 30 letters for 30 days to my beautiful daughter. This series is entitled, Mami Loves You. In these letters, I will tell her about the world around her, and reflect on her development.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, I will honor a Latina woman that I believe is a great role model for my daughter to admire. Through these letters, I pay homage to my role as a mother, and I will teach my daughter about one of the cultures that has birthed her.

To Subscribe to the series Mami Loves You, follow the link: http://mamilovesyou.com/ and fill out the form.


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Day 24 – Mujeres Poderosas – Raquel Z. Rivera

To my Little Purple Wolf,

You went down the slide in the park ALL by yourself, today. I saw your light and independence shine, shine, shine!

I am so excited to see you become such an independent and fun loving little girl.

Right now, you are learning animal sounds with grandma. She has taught you how to meow, woof, and aaahoooo.

I love watching the two of you interact.

Seeing your eyes shining bright reminds me of one of the most influential women in my life since my undergraduate career and today’s Mujer Poderosa, Raquel Z. Rivera.

Raquel is the first woman of Puerto Rican descent that I met who earned a PhD.  I was her student at the “From Hip Hop to Reggaeton” course taught at Columbia University during my sophomore year.

Raquel and her baby boy. Photo taken by Catarina Dos Santos.

At that time, Raquel was a recent PhD who had just published her work “New York Ricans from the Hip Hop Zone.” She was highly influenced by the work of Juan Flores, and I was thrilled to learn that one could pursue work on hip hop at the PhD level.

At that point in my life, I knew I wanted to get a PhD, but I didn’t have much of an understanding of what that entailed.

After taking her course, I continued to maintain a relationship with Raquel, where she served as a mentor and guide through my undergraduate career, my graduate studies, and today.  She remains one of the biggest supporters of my decision to pursue higher education and has been a recommender for many of the programs I have had the privilege of being accepted into.

Not only is Raquel an accomplished scholar, she is also an incredible musician.  Her album,  Las 7 Salves de  la Magdalena, with Ojos de Sofia pays tribute to traditional Dominican musical forms with a twist.  On top of becoming a mom recently and moving all the way to New Mexico from New York, Raquel has been working on new songs that are part of the series “Las Décimas del Amargue & Other Songs of Love and Bitterness,” which will move away from common musical tropes of heartbroken women as empty and lost without a man.  She even has a recent article due to be published in the Latin American Music Review.

Raquel, like Isabel, remind us that you can be a scholar, a woman, mother, and artist without having to compromise yourself and your integrity.

She is a woman you should admire for her kindness, willingness to help her community, and her extreme talent.

I can only hope that you will find mentors and educators as forthcoming and dedicated to the better of their communities like I have in Raquel.

With Gratitude,

Mami Loves You

—-
About this Series:

In honor of Latino Heritage Month, I will write 30 letters for 30 days to my beautiful daughter. This series is entitled, Mami Loves You. In these letters, I will tell her about the world around her, and reflect on her development.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, I will honor a Latina woman that I believe is a great role model for my daughter to admire. Through these letters, I pay homage to my role as a mother, and I will teach my daughter about one of the cultures that has birthed her.

To Subscribe to the series Mami Loves You, follow the link: http://mamilovesyou.com/ and fill out the form.


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Day 19 – Mujeres Poderosas – Isabel Porras

To My Mini Educator,

As I write about the women that inspire me, I have noticed that many of these women are involved in higher education and community work.

Today, you get to learn about one of the coolest chicks I have ever met, Isabel Porras.

Isabel is currently completing her PhD at UC, Davis in Cultural Studies.  She was awarded the AAUW American Fellowship to complete her dissertation.   She is teaching Women’s Studies (feminist theory and sexuality history/theory).

One of the creative geniuses of the blog, http://academictyra.tumblr.com/, Isabel is a woman destined for academic and career success.

I met Isabel at an MMUF conference in Oberlin College a few years ago.  Our personalities synced together really quickly when we discussed the difficulties of being a Latina woman, an academic, and someone who also wanted to have a husband and children in the future.

It is often perceived that a woman should or could not have both an academic career and a family.  It is also very difficult for Latina women to find comfortable spaces within the academy.

Isabel left a huge impression on me when she debated with the conference staff about having gender-assigned bathrooms, which could discriminate against intersexed individuals.

There she was, with her head covered in curly locks, demanding social inclusion for all people.

Isabel is the kind of woman I want you to admire because of her holistic approach to advocacy and her determination to succeed as a scholar without compromising her beliefs.

Isabel

Starting Academic Tyra is just one of the subversive ways that Isabel contends with various aspects of academia.  She also likes to sample rap songs and make them academic and quite hilarious.

Isabel has also been a mentor, thinking tank, resource and role model for me.

When you think of Isabel and women like her, remember that you can accomplish your goals and dreams while poking fun of those who try to limit your possibilities.

Wishing you a joyous future,

Mami Loves You

—-
About this Series:

In honor of Latino Heritage Month, I will write 30 letters for 30 days to my beautiful daughter. This series is entitled, Mami Loves You. In these letters, I will tell her about the world around her, and reflect on her development.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, I will honor a Latina woman that I believe is a great role model for my daughter to admire. Through these letters, I pay homage to my role as a mother, and I will teach my daughter about one of the cultures that has birthed her.

To Subscribe to the series Mami Loves You, follow the link: http://mamilovesyou.com/ and fill out the form.


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Day 17 – Mujeres Poderosas – Kristina Hernandez

To My Darling Dove,

Spirituality is a part of us that many have come to neglect in pursuit of other things like education, money, or fun.  However, having a connection with the Most High, the Universal Everything, and the Center of All Beings is absolutely necessary to internal balance.

During my last year of college, I took shahada and studied Islam for quite some time.  That journey led me to another Mujer Poderosa, Kristina Hernandez.

I am not even sure how Kristina and I met, but we began to hang out a lot my first year of studying Islam.

Kristina doing dawah

As  a Puerto Rican Muslimah like me, it was great to be with someone who understood the difficulties of separating culture and the desire for religious practice.

We both struggled with aspects of our faith and sought to be studious in our efforts to follow the suratal mustaqeem.

Alas, I strayed as I confronted my own difficulties with religiosity, and Kristina was one of the few Muslim friends who stuck by me even as I continued to my spiritual journey.

While I could not find my own sense of peace being a devout Muslim, I was overjoyed to learn that Kristina continued her path by becoming a Muslim Chaplain at Manhattanville College.

She is, also, happily married to a man who loves her for the sake of Allah as she studies to become a dietitian.

And, like many of the women that I admire, Kristina hopes to get her PhD in Public Health in the future to do work on HIV infection in the Muslim community.

Kristina is the type of woman that you should admire because of her resilience and her ability to find her own way to worship our Creator.

She has also never been judgmental of me, and she is a testament that you can be religiously devout and be a balanced, loving, and kind human being.  You know, she is what a person of faith ought to be.

I want you to remember that spirituality and faith are important foundations of who you are and find your own path towards the Most High.

La Illaha il Allah.

Every day,

Mami Loves You

 

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About this Series:

In honor of Latino Heritage Month, I will write 30 letters for 30 days to my beautiful daughter. This series is entitled, Mami Loves You. In these letters, I will tell her about the world around her, and reflect on her development.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, I will honor a Latina woman that I believe is a great role model for my daughter to admire. Through these letters, I pay homage to my role as a mother, and I will teach my daughter about one of the cultures that has birthed her.

To Subscribe to the series Mami Loves You, follow the link: http://mamilovesyou.com/ and fill out the form.


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Day 12 – Mujeres Poderosas – Olivia Rios

Good Morning to my Precious Child,

Today is a beautiful day.

Last night, Mami hosted a live chat on raising healthy families with Tatiana Amico, a health coach also dedicated to helping people live toxic free lifestyles.

It was the first time that I hosted an online event, and it was a wonderful experience. I am looking forward to doing it, again.

As it turns out, i is Thursday, so you get to learn about the 4th Mujer Poderosa, Olivia Rios, who I am really excited to write about.  

Often times, we think that role models have to be , presidents, movie stars, revolutionaries or people with stuffed pockets, but I think looking to only those types of people misses out on people who live the struggle daily and find ways to constantly be excited about life.

Olivia (or as I called her for many months Princesa Bolivia) and I met in the summer of 2010 in Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, Mexico.  We both received grants from the Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship to study Mixtec through a program by the University of California, San Diego.

While neither of us learned much Mixtec due to the complexity of the language, since saying Mixtec is like saying “Roman Languages,” which include French, Spanish, Italian, etc., we learned a great deal about indigenous culture and language structure.

Our connection, however, really took place outside of the classroom.  Olivia often accompanied me to my field site, and I would go to hers.  At the time, I was engaged in anthropological research in Oaxaca City aimed at understanding how people made use of the arts to contest state power.  Olivia was interested in indigenous dances as forms of performative expression.

We would sit at the cafe together and listen to the performers, dancing, and enjoying the art that surrounded us.  Then, I would accompany to local dances on pyramids and monuments.

boli y yo

me and Olivia

The real fun times came during our many, many nights at a local night club, Tentacion, which had live, local bands performing Musica Norteña on a balcony stage above our heads.  Through dance and our love of being in constant motion, our friendship flourished.

We, along with two of our classmates, also made a ridiculous voyage by bus, bike, and boat down to Guatemala to visit the historical site of Tikal, which was a total spiritual experience for me that I hope to tell you about when you are older.

What makes Olivia admirable and a good role model for you, my dear little girl, is her intense capacity to have faith in LOVE and her spirit for adventure.

During our last nights in Oaxaca, Olivia had the courage to love and return to Oaxaca in pursuit of that love.

Many of our conversations have been about the need for love in our lives in its multi-faceted forms – love of self, love of culture, love of soccer, love of life, love of travelling, and love of others.

I want so much for you to have the courage to love as you grow no matter the pain that might come.  Of course, I pray that you will never experience heartache, but I cannot protect you from the entirety of the world.  So, know that if someone ever breaks your heart, I will be there to help you mend the pieces.

Always be open to adventure.  Had I not met Olivia, I would have never went to Guatemala or learned what joy dancing quebradita is.

These days, Olivia continues to pursue her passion for life by teaching small children in California.  She will be applying for a Fulbright scholarship next year, and, soon after, she hopes to pursue a doctorate degree.

But, of course, what Olivia is most excited about is her new found love, who she met at a Ramon Ayala concert.  She is grateful to have found someone that is in tune with her life and values the things that she does.

I urge you, my little one, to have the courage to love, always, and never settle for less than what you deserve.

Wishing you a life full of joy,

Mami Loves You

—-
About this Series:

In honor of Latino Heritage Month, I will write 30 letters for 30 days to my beautiful daughter. This series is entitled, Mami Loves You. In these letters, I will tell her about the world around her, and reflect on her development.

Each Tuesday and Thursday, I will honor a Latina woman that I believe is a great role model for my daughter to admire. Through these letters, I pay homage to my role as a mother, and I will teach my daughter about one of the cultures that has birthed her.

To Subscribe to the series Mami Loves You, follow the link: http://mamilovesyou.com/ and fill out the form.